Last season, the Sabres and Coyotes played in one of the most important games of the year, and nobody was sure which team wanted to win. Tonight, the teams played a fairly even game until Evander Kane broke things open with a shorthanded goal in the third, and after that it was all Sabres as they beat the Coyotes 5-2 in an exciting, back and forth game.
The Coyotes struck first thanks to rookie phenom Max Domi, who took a breakout pass from Martin Hanzal straight to the net and lofted a sweet backhander over the shoulder of Chad Johnson to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead. Things would pick up for the Sabres in the second period when Sam Reinhart banked a shot from behind the goal line off of Mike Smith's skate and into the net for his seventh of the season. Later in the period, Jamie McGinn would give the Sabres the 2-1 lead thanks to a great feed from Jack Eichel. We've seen Eichel score some highlight reel goals this year, but this was an example of what a good passer he is as well.
The third period was back-and-forth hockey, but the Sabres were able to take advantage of a gorgeous shorthanded chance that saw Evander Kane streaking down the ice to snap a quick wrister past Smith for his fifth goal of the season. Arizona wouldn't go away quietly, however, as Max Domi scored his second of the night when his spin-o-rama shot caught Johnson off guard to close the gap to 3-2.
Then, within quick succession two goals were scored, one by Marcus Foligno, and one by - wait, what's that? The Sabres are challenging the Arizona goal for goaltender interference? And they won? And we all still grumbled about how dumb challenges are in hockey? Okay then, the score remained 4-2 in the third until Evander Kane would add an empty netter, his second of the night, to seal the Sabres victory by a score of 5-2.
While Max Domi was the story of the night for the Coyotes, the Sabres win was a true team effort. Fourteen players scored a point tonight, while Evander Kane had two thanks to his pair of goals - that makes five in five games for Kane. The Sabres killed penalties effectively, took advantage of their big chances and scored a few garbage goals, all four lines played well, Kane was a monster, and the team looked strong in all three periods. A solid win all around against a recently struggling Coyotes team.
1. Whose rookies will impress more?
Max Domi struck first, with a beautiful top shelf backhand on a breakaway in the first period. But Eichel would contribute as well, with the primary assist on a nice backhand pass to Jamie McGinn. And then Domi came back in the third with a quick, spinning shot that got past Chad Johnson, so we'll give the Coyotes the win here, though Eichel had a few dangles and chances that brought you to the edge of your seat.
2. Can the Sabres improve their tanking (sorry) possession numbers?
Yes, the Corsi was strong with the Sabres tonight, outshooting the Coyotes 28-20. This is a good rebound effort after getting squashed in the shot department on Tuesday.
3. Who wins the battle of young #1 defensemen?
Rasmus Ristolainen gets the win in this category - he earned an assist and a +1 rating, while OEL was held scoreless and was an ugly -4 on the night. RISTOLAINEN BEST.
Comment of the Night
Dad jokes FTW.